Rainfall is important to everyone. All living things need water to live, and rain provides us with a water supply. We use rain for drinking water -- for people, animals and plants. Without water we would have no food, and no way to keep clean. Without water we could not survive, so keeping track of rainfall gives us important information about our ability to survive.
Have you ever wondered during a heavy storm: How much rain is falling on my house? You can find out by making your own rain gauge. Start by collecting the following items: A plastic soft drink bottle, a few stones, tape, a marker, a ruler, a pen and paper. Ask an adult to help cut the top off the bottle about an inch or two below the point where the bottle begins to narrow toward the spout. A set of clippers or strong scissors will be needed to cut through the plastic.
Finishing the Rain Gauge
Put the stones in the bottom of the bottle for weight to hold the bottle upright. Replace the bottle top upside down -- so the spout points down rather than up -- and tape it in place. Use your ruler and marker to make an inch scale on the side of the bottle, starting above the stones. Fill the bottle with water until it reaches the bottom mark on the scale, so you will only measure new water collected from rainfall. Your gauge is complete and ready to collect precipitation. Find a good spot outside where rain will fall freely into your rain gauge. Avoid placing it under a roof or awning.
Wait for the next rain shower, and check the scale on the bottle after the rain stops. You will notice that rain falls into the top of the gauge and collects at the bottom, where it can be easily measured. Note how far up the scale the water has risen and make a note on a notepad. You can log the rainfall amounts on the scale for a specific time, such as for a month. Compare how rainfall differs from day to day. Graph your findings.
Conclusions and Reporting
As we know, rainfall amounts differ throughout the year. A good study would allow you to track the rainfall for several months, but if this is not possible, research rainfall statistics for your area, and compare them to your findings. Your findings will be especially interesting if you live in an area where you get very little rain some seasons and a lot of rain in others. Check with your teacher for specific requirements for your science project. You should present your chart and photos of your gauge at work in a display. A written or oral report to your classmates should summarize your work in scientific format: Introduction, Purpose, Hypothesis, Materials and Methods, Data, Results, Conclusion and References.
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